Special Needs Back To School Tips
It still feels like summer to me, but many of you are preparing to go back to school!
Every year at this time I’m asked, and our clinicians are asked, what is the best way to handle this transition back to school? Transitions are difficult for many of our clients, even when they’re excited about them, so we have to plan for them.
Get Back on Schedule
We have many, many tips on how to make this transition process easier on everyone. One of the things I always say is to go ahead and start pulling their schedule back so that they’re going to bed when you expect them to go to bed during the school year. You can start this subtly, by moving their bedtime back 15 minutes each night until you get them into the desired time.
Include Your Kiddo In Shopping
Start including them in your back to school shopping. When you’re shopping for school supplies I love the prepackaged kits. However, sometimes your kiddo might be using a particular type of paper, or a certain type of pencil or grip, that might not be in the prepackaged kit. Make sure you include those items in your school supplies so that they can use them in the classroom.
Tips For Clothing
When you shop for school clothes make sure your kids are actually going to wear what you’re buying. Sometimes they need to be there to feel the texture of the clothes, or to try them on. When you include them in this process you’ll be much more likely to come home with clothes they’ll wear.
Give Your Child’s Teacher Info on Your Child
If your children are going to have a new teacher this year, I encourage parents to come up with a bio sheet about their kiddo. Include their likes and dislikes, any fears they have, any concerns that you want that teacher to know about. Teachers are always appreciative of information like this, and having it all on one sheet allows them to have it handy to refer to any time.
Visit The School Before The First Day
If your kiddo is heading off to a new school, visit that school. Take a tour, see if you can meet the teacher, walk to the classroom, go to the library, go to the cafeteria. Maybe even take photos and make a social story or a visual schedule out of it. This will make that first day much easier on your kiddo.
Ask Questions If Your Child Has Anxiety About School
I recommend doing these last two things whether your child has special needs or not. In fact, many of these tips apply to both our special needs children and our children without special needs but who may be having a little anxiety about school. If your kiddos have anxiety, talk to them about it. Ask them where the anxiety is coming from and what they’re struggling with so you can deal with it ahead of time.
Review IEP Documents
The other thing is that if your kiddos are on an IEP of some type, I recommend you review that document. Really look at the goals for this next year. It’s a great idea to look at your goals and start planning for them early, rather than waiting.
Stay In Therapy
Remember, it’s important for your kiddos to stay in their treatment while they’re going through this transition process. Treatment offers some stability for them. Going into a new classroom with new friends is exciting, but it is also an unknown. Having some things like treatment that are structured and planned and that continue through the transition is very helpful for your kiddos.
Ask Your Child’s Therapist
These are just a few of the tips and ideas we have to help your kiddos transition back into school. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have more questions, or would like some specific ideas for your kids. We hope you have a great school year this year!